Paddy Mulligan reminisces about Chelsea's 1970-71 European trips

He was part of a Chelsea team reached the Cup Winners Cup final in 1970-71

Chelsea, European Cup Winners Cup, Real Madrid

Alan Hudson holds aloft the European Cup Winners' Cup from an open-top bus as Chelsea are welcomed by hundreds of fans at Heathrow Airport on their return from Athens, where they beat Real Madrid to win the trophy. Chelsea's Alan Hudson holds the Cup, with (L-R) Peter Houseman, Marvin Hinton, Keith Weller and captain Ron Harris. Goalkeeper Peter Bonetti waves from a rear seat. Picture by PA PA Archive/PA Images

These days, Europe's top clubs travel in comfort to and from away games, regardless of where they are on the continent.

First class cabins or private jets are the way and the same goes for Arsenal when they travel to Germany to face Bayern Munich in tomorrow's UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg.

But how arduous were away trips for teams involved in Europe in a bygone era?

Ex-Ireland defender Paddy Mulligan was part of the Chelsea side which won the European Cup Winners Cup final by beating Real Madrid in the final back in the 1970-71 season.

There were four rounds of home and away legs before the final (apart from a preliminary round featuring Ireland's Bohemians and three sides from Czechoslovakia, Sweden and Albania).

Along the way, Chelsea faced trips to Aris Thessaloniki F.C. in Greece, CSKA Sofia in Bulgaria, Club Brugge in Belgium and fellow English side Manchester City, who were defending tournament champions.

The last tie in the semi finals was the least complicated in terms of travel as it was in the same country.

Paddy popped into for our weekly chat and he share his memories of the 1970-71 European run. Things were a little different for away sides in Europe.

"Travelling arrangements were much more difficult then and it took forever," he recalled.

Goalie Peter Bonetti, center, of English soccer club Chelsea FC looks back after Spanish football club Real Madrid's left half Ignacio Zoco (4) scored the equalizer in the final minute of regular play on May 19, 1971 during the Eropean Cup of Cup Winnders match at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, near Athens, Greece. (AP Photo/Arisiotle Saris)

"I remember we played in Sofia against CSKA Sofia, who hadn't been beaten at home for four or five years, and we went and beat them 1-0 in one of the earlier rounds.

"The travelling to a degree was chaotic. Now, Chelsea Football Club did the very best that they possibly could but that's just the way the world was in those days. So you just got on with it and dealt with it."

In the case of the match in Sofia, Chelsea won 1-0 in that second round fixture, coupled with the same score at Stamford Bridge.

Paddy recalled the travel arrangements for those trips in terms of their planning. 

"You'd leave on the Monday and the game was on the Wednesday and you'd be in Heathrow around midday or a little before that and go and fly to Sofia. It took probably three or four hours and they weren't the most comfortable planes in those days - not like the luxury the lads have nowadays with travel in first class and on private jets." 

The Sofia trip was a direct flight to the Bulgarian capital as were all the other fixture fulfilments including the final and replay against Real Madrid in the Greek city of Piraeus which meant Chelsea had to stay a couple of days longer.

You can listen to the full chat with Paddy including a Bayern Munich vs Arsenal preview below: